Wednesday, August 1, 2012

History01: Victory for Vic Tokai

at 10:53 AM
Do yourself a favor and go check out the Wikipedia page on Vic Tokai right this instant. Back? That's right! Today I'm here to tell you about a Japanese cable and DSL provider! You thought this blog was all about video games, but we've got a lot more in store for you. Prepare to be educated!

Wait, what's that? You read past the first two sentences of the article and saw that the company also developed and published video games in the late '80s and '90s? Well, aren't you a smart brain. I was ready to deliver a dissertation on the market trends of internet service providers in 21st century Japan and you jump in here with this game bullshit. Fine. I'll go click through a bunch of links and YouTube a bunch of longplays and come back to you the BORING reader with some BORING information on their BORING period of experimentation in the BORING field of video games.

Ha, and your name is Bert! Asshole!
Tricked you! I actually knew all along that Vic Tokai was a games company. In fact, it was just today that I learned about their history in telecommunications. Yeah, so they made a bunch of okay games, mostly for the Genesis/Mega Drive and NES. Some are remembered fondly, some are shockingly derivative of more famous games, and most have simply disappeared over the years. I'm going to talk to you a little bit, in person, about a couple games they developed. For the most part I'll be skipping over anything they published but didn't themselves create.

So let's start with an 'over the view'. The only Victor Kai game I've heard mentioned by anyone ever is a Sega Master System platformer called Psycho Fox. It's one of those games you may hear mentioned as "one of the only SMS games that doesn't completely suck". Some people think it sucks though. Some think it's just alright. If one thing is true, it's that it's for the Sega Master System. Hm you know actually I told a lie at the beginning of this paragraph. There's one other VT game you may know by name: Clash at Demonhead. This one came out for the NES and had a kind of weird Metroid / Bionic Commando thing going on, where the levels were on a world-map, but had different entrances and exits that would take you on different paths. Hey and there's Decap Attack, THAT one actually made it onto the Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection that came out on 360 a few years back. But is it truly considered an Ultimate Genesis game? Certainly it was one of the lesser known in that anthology. And by "lesser known", I do mean "starred a mummy" - but he's a good mummy. From here, we're only going to get more obscure.

Past that pack of popular platformers players probably precognize, ol' Vicky T. is notable for one other thing: a bunch of games dangerously derivative of far more famous fredecessors. Mega Man, Mario, Sonic - Tokai has copied from the best of the best, and they do little to hide it. Ever looked through the video store or Netflix and seen those fake-out movies that are intended to trick consumers into believing they're related to their more famous counterparts? Transmorphers, Almighty Thor, The Terminators, Snakes on a Train - just look through the IMDB for The Asylum and you'll find a litany of these shameless ripoffs. Well, that's what Vic Tokai was up to in the video game industry of the early '90s. Maybe their replicas weren't as much mean-spirited cash-ins as uninspired filler, but you've got to chuckle as soon as you power on The Krion Conquest, Kid Kool, or Socket (aka Time Dominator). And maybe it's what you would expect from a cable company feigning to be a game developer. Anyway, grab some popcorn (ugh) and check these out. Try to guess what classic each copies from! (Hint: you'll know immediately)

Check back later for Part 2, where I'll discuss some of VT's original games in a little more depth. And feel free to make a marijuana pun at your leisure; I'm not going to because I didn't drop out of high school to work at Home Depot.

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